BANGOR, Maine — Ten people walking around downtown Bangor on Friday reacted to an obscenity-filled message left by Gov. Paul LePage on the voicemail of Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, who had criticized the governor for his comments about black and Hispanic people from other states coming to Maine to sell drugs.
The Bangor Daily News played the audio of LePage’s remarks for those interviewed or let them read a printed version. No one defended the governor.
“Did he just say c—ksucker?” Taylor Annis of Bangor asked as she listened to LePage’s voicemail, during which he called Gattine the obscene term twice. “That is definitely not what a governor says. That’s not something we want our kids to hear.”
Tom Janotta of Bangor said he was not surprised by LePage’s words.
“I wouldn’t put it past him,” he said. “Imagine what he says in private.”
LePage blasted Gattine after hearing about the criticism and the representative shared the voicemail.
Gattine denied calling LePage a racist, saying that “is one of the worst things you could ever call a person, and I have never called anyone that.”
Ross Mills of Deer Isle said the governor’s language left him speechless.
“I don’t know what to say,” Ross Mills said. “He’s the racist. I can’t stand him.”
His father, Dave Mills, also of Deer Isle, piped in: “He’s embarrassing.”
Brian Levesque said he had just listened to the message before walking downtown.
“I think he’s out of his mind,” said Levesque, who is from the Princeton area in Washington County.
Michael Hallahan of Brewer, who was out walking his dog, Ella, said he wasn’t sure the recorded voicemail was in fact LePage, but he thought it was.
“I listened to it this morning. I wouldn’t put it past him. It sounds like him — no doubt,” Hallahan said. “I think he’s totally capable of being a complete ass.”
Veazie resident Danielle Ashley said, “The governor is a friggin’ idiot,” before she even heard the voicemail message that LePage left calling Gattine a “little son-of-a-bitch, socialist c—ksucker” in one of two derogatory references in the 34-second voicemail.
After listening to the message, she added: “You can’t say boo without someone saying you’re a racist, but he’s an idiot. The guy is a racist.”
Amy Brunning of Minnesota, who is in Bangor with her husband and three children, said she was no stranger to statements made by LePage that have made headlines around the nation.
“That’s not good,” Brunning said while reading LePage’s words while standing by a cannon in a downtown park. “That’s too bad. [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker is not so different, but he doesn’t quite go that far.”
Jon Zucker of Long Island, New York, who was in Bangor dropping off his child at the nearby University of Maine, was outraged by LePage’s language.
“There is no tolerance for anything like that,” he said. “Being from New York and having to deal with Mr. [Donald] Trump saying similar things on a daily basis — I empathize. This is not the language of a governor, and people should definitely speak out against it.”
Newburgh resident Nicki Franz said the governor has again stuck his foot in his mouth.
“I’m speechless. This is an embarrassment to our state,” Franz said. “It’s obvious to me he has issues with people of other races. At this point, I’m glad he can’t run again.
“That’s also why I’m scared about Trump, too,” the Newburgh resident said. “He brings all these thoughts into view and then gets upset when he’s called out on it.”
BDN writer Christopher Cousins contributed to this report.